Researchers at the new Arthritis Research UK Experimental Arthritis Treatment Centre at King’s College London aim to investigate new and better ways to diagnose and treat patients with inflammatory arthritis.
The medical research charity, the fourth-largest in the UK, has awarded the centre £225,000 over three years.
The centre will also receive support from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London, as well as financial support from the Quintiles drug research unit at Guy’s Hospital.
The research team, led by Professor Andrew Cope, is collaborating with King’s College Hospital and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trusts as part of King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre.
The Experimental Arthritis Treatment Centre will offer a wider range of opportunities for patients to participate in high quality research studies. A particular focus will be to develop better and more efficient ways of recruiting people into experimental drug trials. This means better communication with patients.
They hope to pioneer preventive therapy by identifying what makes some people more susceptible to inflammatory arthritis, and by predicting which patients may be at high risk of developing potentially life-threatening complications such as a heart attack or stroke.
The centre hosts one of only two UK accredited clinical trials units dedicated to co-ordinating large clinical trials of new therapies for joint, bone and muscle diseases.
Professor Cope commented: “We have an outstanding team who are at the forefront of medical research into inflammatory arthritis, combined with unparalleled facilities at King’s College London. Working with our partner NHS Foundation Trusts as part of King’s Health Partners, our specialist clinics in the outpatients department allow us to study patients at different stages of their disease. This helps us to decide which treatments are best for individual patients.”
“We also undertake research to identify changes in lifestyle that could affect our patients’ condition, such as diet, sleep and exercise. It’s incredibly rewarding, as patients will both contribute to our research and directly benefit from it.”
About rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis affects nearly half a million people in the UK. It is a chronic, disabling condition in which the body’s immune system attacks the joints.
Although newer biologic treatments pioneered by Arthritis Research UK have made a huge difference to patients’ lives, a proportion do not respond. Critical knowledge is needed to target the most appropriate treatments to the right patients.
Medical director of Arthritis Research UK Professor Alan Silman said: “There’s a real need to do in-depth testing of the benefits and safety of new drugs in small numbers of patients before large scale trials can begin. Our new experimental arthritis treatment centres will provide the resources to study patients in these key first stage studies.”
Professor Cope’s team of researchers has specialist expertise in investigating the causes of inflammation and will be focusing on rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and connective tissue diseases like lupus.
The team’s specialist knowledge includes:
Identifying white blood cells and the molecules they produce that are responsible for damage to joints and tissues
Identifying gene mutations that put people at highest risk of developing inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
Posted on Thursday 14th June 2012